The day has arrived. You have not eaten since last night; you are worried and your family seems either too merry or too somber. You are now “in the system.” Everyone in the hospital is concerned with your schedule, where to get you to and when. Things seem to happen too fast, until you get to the operating room holding area. The friendliest face that you will see up until this point will probably be the orderly who transports you up to the operating room. He or she has had much experience as the world’s most accomplished, temporary psychiatrist, soothing so many souls on their way to a fearful experience. More often than not, this kindly face will help carry you through the ordeal, remaining in your memory long after the anesthesiologist fades from view as you fall asleep.
In the holding area both the nurse and anesthesiologist visit with you again, and of course, ask you the same questions. After that, your surgeon will say hello. Don’t be alarmed if he or she asks you “what side your problem is on.” It never hurts to triple check everything.
After a wait (20 minutes or so), you are wheeled into the operating room to a swirl of activity. Nurses (usually three or four), resident (one or two), your anesthesiologist, your neurosurgeon, orderlies and various technologists (possibly), and a whole lot of equipment pack the O.R.
Most patients notice the overhead lights, and the blue or green hue that seems to permeate the whole room. You are moved from the stretcher to the operating table (always too small).
By this time you also notice how cold the room is. Don’t be afraid to ask for a heated blanket. There is a whole warming cabinet next door full of them. If you like music, ask the nurse to turn on the ubiquitous radio or CD player and to play the type of music you are particularly fond of.
By now, the anesthesiologist will have given you some “happy” medicine using the intravenous, and things will begin to both warm up and settle down. A certain happy banter fills the room from the chorus of people in the operating room.
You are the star of the show. Soon the anesthesiologist will lean over you and say something like “You are going to sleep now,” or “This should make you feel good.” You will feel a warm feeling and quickly fall off to sleep.
The next thing that you will notice will be the more pleasant lights of the recovery room, wondering. “Has it all begun yet?” But it will already be over.
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